Executive Briefings

On Blockchain: Perishables and the Need for Transparency

Think about the last three seafood dinners you've had. Let's say you ate fresh Coho salmon flown in from the Pacific Northwest, perhaps some tasty red snapper sourced from the Gulf of Mexico and some ahi tuna from Japan.

Chances are, however, that one of those meals was mislabeled, and you actually ate some kind of mystery fish.

Unsettling, isn’t it? But according to a recent study by the nonprofit group Oceana, the above scenario has likely been true for the last decade. About 30 percent of the time, on average, seafood shipped worldwide is mislabeled, the group found. Some popular species of fish, like snapper, perch and grouper, were wrong more than half of the time, Oceana said, with some error rates exceeding 80 percent in certain regions.

While this news may cause some consumers to skip that next California roll at their favorite sushi spot, air logistics companies are equally queasy about the prospect of getting nearly a third of its shipments mixed up due to simple clerical errors arising from a still mostly paper-based system of air waybills (AWBs) that are shuffled by dozens of human handlers.

The answer to this labeling problem, say many logistics experts, is not necessarily IATA’s electronic AWB program, although e-AWBs would certainly offer an improvement. Instead, the go-to solution among many 3PL IT departments has been blockchain technology — a cloud-based system of automatically making a record of every time a shipment changes hands, creating a permanent, un-hackable, shareable history.

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Chances are, however, that one of those meals was mislabeled, and you actually ate some kind of mystery fish.

Unsettling, isn’t it? But according to a recent study by the nonprofit group Oceana, the above scenario has likely been true for the last decade. About 30 percent of the time, on average, seafood shipped worldwide is mislabeled, the group found. Some popular species of fish, like snapper, perch and grouper, were wrong more than half of the time, Oceana said, with some error rates exceeding 80 percent in certain regions.

While this news may cause some consumers to skip that next California roll at their favorite sushi spot, air logistics companies are equally queasy about the prospect of getting nearly a third of its shipments mixed up due to simple clerical errors arising from a still mostly paper-based system of air waybills (AWBs) that are shuffled by dozens of human handlers.

The answer to this labeling problem, say many logistics experts, is not necessarily IATA’s electronic AWB program, although e-AWBs would certainly offer an improvement. Instead, the go-to solution among many 3PL IT departments has been blockchain technology — a cloud-based system of automatically making a record of every time a shipment changes hands, creating a permanent, un-hackable, shareable history.

Read Full Article